MEPs back acceleration of ATC reform

Draft legislation to streamline air traffic management to make Europe’s airlines more competitive, share airspace better and reduce pollution, has been backed by European MEPs.

The proposed update of current Single European Sky rules, dubbed SES2+ would merge them into a single EU regulation aiming to speed up the reform of air navigation services, while retaining the original Single European Sky aims and principles.

The European Parliament voted on its first reading of the draft legislation in order to consolidate the work done so far before handing it over to the next Parliament. This ensures that the MEPs newly elected in May can decide not to start from scratch, but instead build on work done during the current term.

The proposed update tightens up oversight rules by giving national aviation authorities more independence. EU countries should encourage cooperation between national aviation authorities in order to coordinate airspace management more closely across Europe and make air traffic control less fragmented, say MEPs.

The proposals would allow the European Commission to designate an impartial, independent body to help national aviation authorities meet performance targets for improved services.

SES2+ would streamline the process of setting service improvement targets in areas such as safety, pollution reduction, capacity and cost-efficiency and also provide for more flexible cooperation among national authorities, air navigation service providers and airlines, so as to reduce today’s fragmentation of air traffic management along national lines.

For example, under the proposed rules, air navigation service providers and airlines would be able to propose enhanced cooperation arrangements beyond the current limits of Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), which aim to reflect operational requirements, rather than state boundaries.

MEPs insisted that before taking any further steps to open up support services such as weather forecasting and air navigation information services to more competition, further impact assessments should be done by 1 January 2016 at the latest.

Air navigation service providers should nonetheless be able to call for tenders from different support service providers when drawing up their business plans, with a view to choosing the “financially and qualitatively most beneficial provider”, adds the text. MEPs also backed changes to clarify the division of tasks between the European Commission, the European Aviation Safety Agency and Eurocontrol.

Read More: Transport MEPs back SES II+, stopping short on wholesale outsourcing support services

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